Facts about Pocahontas
Pocahontas was the nickname of Mataoaka, a young woman who became an emissary between native tribes and English setters in North America’s early Colonial period.
Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, an important chief of several tribes of Algonquian Indians in the Chesapeake Bay region (along the coast of Virginia). Although she is one of the most famous Native Americans in history, her actual biographical details are scant and based on just a few resources.
Much of the Pocahontas story came from Captain John Smith (1580-1631), an English promoter of colonization whose most well-known account was published several years after their acquaintance. According to Smith, his life was spared only through the intervention of Pocahontas, who at the time was around 12 years old. The story took on a romanticized flavor in the 19th century and over the years has been retold as a love story, but there is general agreement that Smith and Pocahontas were not sweethearts.
Other accounts indicate that Pocahontas was a talented and charismatic child who acted as a go-between for Powhatan and the settlers at Jamestown. In 1613 she was kidnapped by Captain Samuel Argall and held at the fort for a year as a bargaining chip in dealings with her father. In captivity she was baptized and christened Rebecca, and in 1614 married John Rolfe, with whom she had a son, Thomas.
In 1616 she was among a group of Algonquian Indians taken to London as part of a plan to popularize Jamestown; she was presented to King James I and made a good impression on the royal family and high society. After seven months in England, Rolfe decided take his family back to Virginia and set sail in March of 1617. Pocahontas immediately became gravely ill and the ship went ashore at Gravesend, England, where she died. Her burial at Gravesend was recorded as taking place on March 21, 1617.
“Pocahontas” means “playful” or “little wanton one”… Many stories speculate that Pocahontas married one of her father’s chiefs, Kocoum, sometime between 1610 and 1613… Pocahontas has been depicted as a heroic figure in movies since the early days of cinema, including in Disney‘s 1995 animated feature (Pocahontas, with the voices of Irene Bedard as Pocahontas and of Mel Gibson as John Smith) and The New World (2005, starring Colin Farrell as Smith and Q’orianka Kilcher as Pocahontas)… Donald Trump has often used the term Pocahontas to taunt his political rival Elizabeth Warren. Warren had once listed herself as a minority in the directory of the Association of American Law Schools, saying that her family lore indicated that she was a small part Native American; Trump and other rivals have insisted that Warren was lying. For her part, Warren has called Trump’s use of the name a derogatory racial reference that is offensive to Native Americans.
Something in Common with Pocahontas
3 Good Links
- The National Park Service has a good, strong introduction
- Measuring fact against fiction, with many related links
- 2017 report that recaps the whole dumb story